ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN & CHAMELEON
As they arrived at the end of their second year, Marvel Minimates found their first true moment of weakness. Throughout the first two years of the line, DST was experimenting with having multiple release venues for most figures, with a select few maintaining a more exclusive status. Nevertheless, they managed to keep the main line pretty pure, allowing for collectors to more or less stick to the specialty two-packs as the main attraction. Then came Series 7, an assortment referred to in the collecting community as the “retread wave,” due to it having not one, not two, not three, but four re-packaged figures, as well as one of the lamest standard/variant split ideas DST ever put out in the line (and that’s bearing in mind that the second year started things off with unmasked Daredevil!). It was…not ideal. But, we all managed to suffer through it, and 78 main series later, I guess it’s not all that bad. Today, I’m diving in with Ultimate Spider-Man and Chameleon!
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
Ultimate Spider-Man and Chameleon officially make up two of the sets from Marvel Minimates Series 7. Why two? Remember that lame standard/variant split I mentioned? Here’s where it comes into play. The standard release of this set was Spidey and Chameleon. The variant was Spidey and Chameleon…with a J Jonah Jameson mask. Yes, they hid the disguise mask for the character whose whole gimmick was disguises behind the variant wall, but also made it completely pointless to actually purchase both versions of this set, because who in their right mind would want the exact same Chameleon, just without the mask, as well as a second copy of the Ultimate Spider-Man that most of the fanbase already had at least one of before going into this series? No one. Not even me. And I’m insane.
Ultimate Spider-Man holds the distinction of being perhaps the least exclusive Minimate of all time, which is impressive, given that he began his life in an SDCC-exclusive two-pack in 2003, alongside Grey Hulk (who is, I suppose rather fittingly, the runner up for least exclusive Minimate). Following the two-pack release, he was packaged with Kingpin for the Target/Walmart assortments, and with Bullseye, Kingpin, and Peter Parker/Spider-Man for the TRU four-packs. And then, after this release, he cropped up one more time in the 10-piece Gift Pack, forcing faithful fans to buy him yet again. That marks six separate releases of this exclusive Minimate, for those of you playing at home. Ultimately, he’s the same construction set-up as most Spider-Men, meaning he’s on the standard ‘mate body (or the long-footed variant, anyway) and has no add-on pieces. The main thing here is the paint, which is like the main Series 2 Spider-Man, but less so. Since in the Ultimate line, Spidey’s costume wasn’t actually different from his main line counterpart, DST instead differentiated them by basing this figure on the costume right after Peter first gets it, before he adds the webs to it. Honestly, it’s not a particularly exciting or needed variant, but, umm, here it is. And aren’t we all so glad it was released so many times?
One of only two new figures in Series 7, Chameleon made up for that by taking up two of the slots. Yay. At least he stayed contained to this assortment. Like Spidey, he’s just a vanilla ‘mate, built on the standard long foot body. I suppose it’s not the worst thing in the world, since he’s usually a pretty svelte guy, and it fits the sort of spy/espionage thing he’s got going on. In terms of paint, he actually re-uses the tampography from Professor X for his suit, albeit in a different set of colors. He did get a new set of details for his head, which sports his distinctive mask that he wears under other masks…as you do. It actually looks pretty cool, and is by far the best part of the core figure. The standard figure had no accessories, but the variant that should not have been the variant and should have definitely just been the main release and that I’m definitely not still mad about added a J Jonah Jameson mask, which is a pretty nifty touch, and remained the only way to get Jonah for another 35 Series of the line.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
Series 7 is a definite rough patch for the line, and this set pretty well exemplifies it. This Spider-Man was a stretch for his first release, and the subsequent five really pushed it too far. He’s not bad, but he’s really not very exciting. Why did this one get so much love? Chameleon is the worst use of variant for the line, but to DST’s credit, he did seem to mark a turning point, as they never were quite this bad again. So, I guess that’s good? I don’t know.
I honestly didn’t pick up these two when they were new, mostly out of frustration. Fortunately, my sponsors at All Time Toys were able to finally help me get the Chameleon I actually wanted, allowing me to write this review. If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.